Review: Better Than Perfect by Melissa Kantor

Book Title: Better Than Perfect
Author: Melissa Kantor
Published Date: February 17th, 2015
Publisher: HarperTeen
Genre: YA Contemporary
Book Link: Goodreads
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Juliet Newman has it all. A picture-perfect family; a handsome, loving boyfriend; and a foolproof life plan: ace her SATs, get accepted into Harvard early decision, and live happily ever after.

But when her dad moves out and her mom loses it, Juliet begins questioning the rules she’s always lived by. And to make everything even more complicated there’s Declan, the gorgeous boy who makes her feel alive and spontaneous—and who’s totally off-limits. Torn between the life she always thought she wanted and one she never knew was possible, Juliet begins to wonder: What if perfect isn’t all it’s cracked up to be?

Melissa Kantor once again delivers a tale that is equal parts surprising, humorous, heartbreaking, and romantic. Powerful and honest, Juliet’s story brilliantly portrays the highs and lows of life in high school and will resonate with any reader who has experienced either.

Disclaimer: I got this e-ARC from HarperTeen via Edelweiss in exchange for my honest review.

I was excited to read this book because like Juliet, I was a high achiever and I had a plan at her age. A plan that I had no desire to deviate from. But that was where our similarities ended. She was overly clingy with her boyfriend, Jason, to the point that she wasn’t sure how she was going to live without him for two whole weeks while he and his family went on vacation. 

Yes, seriously, two weeks. C’mon Juliet, I think you can handle being apart for two weeks.

I wanted to have sympathy for her mom, I really did because my own mom battled depression in the past and it was hard for me to watch. But it was hard for me to have sympathy for the woman just because her husband left. I mean, get over it and move on. Making Juliet care for her was unfair as well. Juliet had her own stuff going on, and now she had to be the adult and get her mom to shower and eat.

I didn’t care for either of her parents. It felt like she had no control over her life, and that they influenced her decisions a lot more than they should have. If she really wanted to go to Harvard, she would have, but instead she begins to realize that she needs to live her own life, whatever that means to her. I would even make the argument that the only reason she worked so hard to get to Harvard was because of her parents. Not something she wanted, but something her parents wanted and she wanted their love. She was afraid that their love was conditional on her going to Harvard.
The whole Declan thing was weird. I don’t love cheating in books, but I don’t abhor it like I used to. I didn’t like Declan, but that may have been because I didn’t like Juliet either. She was so different than me in a lot of ways, and her silence on so many things drove me crazy. Her parents were so big on “don’t make a scene” that Juliet was quiet, obedient and just a very boring, one dimensional character.
This book was very slow moving and it felt like I could skip a chunk of this book and still not miss much. It’s not often that I enjoy books that are slow moving and this one was no exception.
I was excited to read this book because I loved Melissa Kantor’s previous book, Maybe One Day, but this book was such a disappointment to me. I didn’t like any of the characters and I was bored while I was reading it. So unfortunately, I have to give this book 2 stars. I would not recommend this book mostly because of the slow pace and unlikeable characters.

3 thoughts on “Review: Better Than Perfect by Melissa Kantor

  1. Aw man. While I haven't read MAYBE ONE DAY, I had heard super amazing things about it, which is why I downloaded this one. But the reviews for this one are so so bad, and now I see why. I don't want to read about a flat, one-dimensional character who is TOO obedient! And silent characters drive me insane, too. And overly-clingy? Ugh. I think I might have to skip this one. Thanks for your honest thoughts! Sorry it disappointed you. 😦


  2. This sounds like an interesting book. It's unfortunate the whole thing didn't gel together better. I was an overachiever in school (maybe I still am?) but man I cannot handle stories where the overachiever character suddenly has a realization and throws it all away. That's a big part of why I could not get excited about Golden by Jessi Kirby. Something about that trope just never works for me on a personal level.


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